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Antonio Mendez Education. (2012) 'Argo How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue In History.'

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Israel 13, Us 12, Hollywood 9, Cia 7, Tony Mendez 6, U.n. 6, America 6, United States 5, Washington 5, Tehran 5, U.s. 5, Jonna 4, Bob Anders 3, Kissinger 3, India 3, Iraq 3, Antonio Mendez 2, Hezbollah 2, Maine 2, D.c. 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Antonio Mendez  Education.  (2012) 'Argo How the CIA and  
   Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue In History.'  

    October 7, 2012
    9:00 - 9:45am EDT  

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so this is really the place where it all happened, where it all took place, were uncle tom, though he died he might say it's the first parish church came alive. she would write chapter by chapter, not unlike the way dickens would write. he would write as things occur to him and send them in immediately. she needed time and space to think and work in she didn't have a lot of that, so she would have to squeeze in her writing, in between taking care of her children, cooking, cleaning, doing all these things at the same time. and that is something, in the morning or very late at night was probably when she wrote. she had a kind of dedication to her writing. if you've read her stuff, she wrote in such an engaging manner, works that could actually be rad, by people like
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her, by her children. "uncle tom's cabin" is also a great children's story that is who she was writing for. she was ready to kind of educate young people on the politics and social situation of her time. she's kind of middle-class i guess. before the publication of "uncle tom's cabin," they were living off calvin salary, which wasn't very much. after the publication of "uncle tom's cabin" she became a sensation, the most famous soccer in america, if not the world because this novel brought her great things and with it came considerable prosperity, but would've been more if she had negotiated a better contract with her publisher, et cetera, et cetera. but she continued to write and she broke prolifically after the publication of "uncle tom's cabin." before that novel she had mostly just written sketches for this magazine from a site that.
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but this was her first big novel. after that she wrote several unobvious or income generating novels. so she was a woman and a housewife who did not much of an m. but after "uncle tom's cabin" she became prosperous warehouse, to how she didn't rents come up with a house that she built over in hartford, connecticut, is basically a testament to her prosperity that came after the publication of "uncle tom's cabin." this is where she lived before, which says a lot about what the novel did for her personally, which is nothing to be sneezed at. , bowdoin college acquired this has a few years ago when they are in the process of renovating it and making it accessible to the public. so that is still undergoing conversation and it remains in process. but we hope that something will, the house to make it accessible for people in maine and those who are curious about the novel and the woman who wrote it.
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.. we are here in special collections with richard. we're just going look at some of the documents to see how the novel evolves first as a serial in a newspaper out of washington, d.c. as i said before, this is how
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she sent in chapter by chapter. and it became increasingly popular. it had no intention of becoming a full-fledged novel their coach is going to be a serial that was published in a newspaper. but because it was so popular it transformed into a full-fledged novel. in the first year, 1952 -- 1852 when it was first published. the first week it sold 10,000 copies. by the end of the year, it goes to 300,000 copies. >> and it has never been out of print since. >> the national era had around 50,000 subscribers but that wouldn't include the whole number of readers because families eagerly awaited by friday now so "the national era" when it came to be read as a group and they could follow along on the story. >> these are the surreal addition, cheap paperbacks if
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you will. and to buy them affordable he, and if you think about them as soap operas they tended to be that kind of fiction. >> domestic fiction was the most popular form of fiction really in the mid-19th century. >> it's well past the time when women used pseudonyms, published under male names. it was a greater success rate. >> i think that this is probably one of the most influential works of literary fiction in american history. as we talked about before,
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lincoln's famous statement about it but not just in 1852. the popularity as richard was saying was something that has, right to the present in the 1890s during the jim crow era. "uncle tom's cabin" again commit very important novel for african-americans to articulate civil rights. it exhibited an enormous influence not just and other writers but on leaving political figures and social activists. so without "uncle tom's cabin" you rich without strong, written very much to model. he wanted to model his work during the reconstruction era after "uncle tom's cabin." james baldwin famously in 1955 publishers the screen against "uncle tom's cabin." but for him, too, in the 1950s he says no novel has ever exerted over him like the power of "uncle tom's cabin." it's the sentimental power of this novel that last very much to the present day.
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>> watch booktv all weekend to see more of our recent visit to augusta, maine. for more information on this and other cities visited by booktv's local content vehicles go to c-span.org/localcontent. >> antonio mendez presents his book, "argo," at the international spy museum in d.c. arco details the story of six americans who escaped from the u.s. embassy during the iran hostage crisis in 1979. the cia operation to find and get them out of the country involved cia officer antonio mendez hosing as a hollywood producer scouting out locations or a fake science fiction movie titled "argo." this is about 30 minutes. >> if we could have everybody in the back come on up that's going to join us.
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thank you so much for your patience. the reports we were getting was that the traffic around the block was around as. apparently -- thank you. people are nodding, so that's good. thank you very much. there may be some people still held up and we will welcome them. welcome to the international spy museum. i'm peter earnest, executive director and i'll ask you as a courtesy, to those for recording the program and to the speakers, the kind enough to turn off your cell phones, pdas and so forth. that would be a big help. thank you. well, it's wonderful to see all of you here for the signing, and as we kick off the signing, i will show you a clip of the film based on the book for which you came to attempt the signing. so with that said we will go right ahead and come up and do the interview with tony.
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>> [inaudible] >> has shocked the civilized world. more than 60 american citizens continue to be held as hostages. >> six of the hostages went out a back exit.
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we have revolutionary guards going door-to-door. if these people die, they die badly. >> deliver the six and provide them with maps. >> or you could send them training wheels and meet them at the border with the gatorade. >> it's going to take a miracle to get them out. >> what are we watching? >> i have an idea. >> there's a canadian film crew with a science fiction movie. >> i need you to help make a fake movie. do want to come to hollywood. >> like a big shot without doing anything? >> yeah. >> if i'm doing a fake movie, it's going to be a fake hit. >> this is the best bad idea we have, why far.
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>> you have 72 hours to get them out. >> this is what i do, and i have never left anyone behind. >> it's over. >> we are responsible for these people. i am responsible. >> do you really believe your store is going to make a difference? [applause]
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>> seeing that, i wish that i had that line when i was in the agency. yes, sir, it's a bad idea but it's the best one we've got. i think all of you can empathize with that. okay, thank you. the matter of exfiltration is an extraordinary operation. it often involves a number of people coming from headquarters. it involves great tension. it involves danger and risk. they are not always all successful. but in many, many, many cases we were successful in bringing out
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our sources who needed to be exfiltrate did, or that was the end of their lives or their careers. tony mendez, who's the subject of the film, "argo," was one of the people in the agency involved in many, many of those exfiltration's. his original specialty had been authentication documentation, and then the area of disguise. and, of course, his wife, john, was later chief of the disguise unit in cia. and so we're hearing tonight from someone upon him some has chosen to base the film. but for them it was real life. it is what they did. for the country, for the agency, and for the sources that we felt it was so important to protect. my understanding is that this film is with the usual liberties, rather close to what
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happened. and i think nothing makes a more proximate for us than to watch the protests outside the american embassies today. and so we see this as a movie not just about the past about our own times. tommy was in the agency for some 25 years. he worked in many areas of the world, often areas which were hostile, as did jonna. and in those areas he was often responsible for the kind of operations that you see depicted in the film and in the book, which we're here to do the signing of tonight. he earned the cia's intelligence and medal of merit, the intelligence star, and two certificates of distinction. i should also add that when the agency celebrated its 50th anniversary, they also recognized 50 other outstanding
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officers, and they were called the trail blazers. tony was one of those officers. tony divides his time, as much as he can win is not doing the hollywood thing, you know, i really did expect him to come in with a scarf and sort of sunglasses, but he stayed tony pretty much. but he is a very accomplished landscape painter. he of course lectures and is an author on intelligence matters. he was a consultant to cbs series, the agency, and he's now done two books, actually three. "the master of disguise," and "star dust," a true story of espionage and romance which was done with his wife, jonna. so we are very happy, tony, to have you here tonight, you and jonna, to do your book signing. we wish you well on the success of the book. we hope you will have a piece of the movie. we wish you success on that,
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too. [laughter] so our format this evening will be tony and jonna conversing about the experience, both that tony had and also in the making of the movie which i think wasú equally extraordinary we will not have a q&a session, but tony will be going back to sign books, and in a few be a fable to take your questions in a to talk about the book. please help me welcome one of the stars of the undercover world, the cia, tony mendez and jonna. [applause]
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>> [inaudible] [laughter] >> can everybody hear us? is this good? while they are putting the mic onto it, let me ask a question, how many people and do not know the story that "argo" is based on? okay. then i'm going to kill you a real quick story. shall we start? >> your lead, my dear. >> i'm going to leave this conversation tonight.
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the story that the movie is about, "argo," is about my husbands' amazing rescue of six diplomats from iran in 1980 following the iranian hostage crisis. basically the american embassy in tehran was overrun, just like you been seeing on the news the last week or so. it was overrun successfully though, and those extremists in the embassy to 60 some americans hostage, and they held them for 444 days. they brought down a presidency of president carter. there was nothing he could do. there was no when he could talk to eric there was no when he could negotiate with. no one wanted to come to the table. they wanted to burn the table down. we were without any resources to deal with that hostage crisis.
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the only successful thing that happened in the 444 days of the hostage crisis was tony's rescue of six diplomats who had slipped out the back door and were on the streets of tehran for a couple days, and finally landed at the canadiens ambassador residence. the movie picks up about, oh, four days after it happened. tony went in after they've been and the canadian ambassador's residence for about three months, and tony convinced them that he was going to rescue them by having them pose as a hollywood location scouting party, a group of nuts from hollywood oblivious to what was going on politically in the world, scouting for a movie, in
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tehran. >> he was asking these people to risk their lives by pretending to be scriptwriters, logistics officers, production managers, international bankers, things they knew nothing about. but he did convince them to do it, and he walked them through probably the most hostile airport in the world at that time, through security, through immigration, through passport control with the documents he had forged and what stories he had made up for them to do. it was an amazing performance. not just by tony, but by those, called houseguest, to differentiate them from the hostages. the houseguests got out. the hostages stayed for 444 da days. on the top floor o of the museum in a glass case you will see a pair of blue jeans that have been laundered and pressed.
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they were worn by one of the hostages. they were worn 444 days. i think would make the best commercial for whatever brand those genes are. [laughter] so i'm going to have -- ask tony some question. first of all, where to start? what is the most difficult and was this the most dangerous exfiltration you ever did? >> no. but it was exciting. it was fun. it was a dangerous, but overall it was a really good show. not the sort of thing you want to do every week ago. it could wear on you.
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anyway, my instructions are to answer the questions and stop talking. [laughter] that's some haiti orders. >> when tony worked at the cia, he was chosen as one of the top 50, one of the reasons he was chosen is because, in this enormous building we can tell you how big, full of all these people, we can't actually tell you how many, tony stood out because he was an artist. and as an artist, hired as a forger and counterfeiter, but as an artist, tony takes a different attack when he is looking at a problem. he doesn't come up with, how shall i -- the everyday solution to a problem. tony comes up with a creative solution to the problem, and he always did. and that was one of the reasons he was so valued at cia and it's one of the reasons that when he
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left he was never replaced in kind. but i will tell you if you're at cia and had an operational problem and needed someone in the room to help you figure out what to do, you would want to me in the room. you get a different answer. and add to that was kind of compelling. now, imagine you're a cia high level senior officer and this guys coming in telling you that the way to move these people is to make them into a hollywood location scouting party. it's on the face of it ridiculous and i think that's what you saw in the film clip. there were no good ideas, but this was the best idea that they had. actually this was a brilliant idea. so, tony, how did you come up with this idea? >> well, it was an act of desperation. really when you're doing and
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exultation or any other -- exfiltration where you have people in harm's way, you have to make sure you get a lot of by in whatever solution you come up with. because it could go bad, and you want to make sure everybody is on board. >> what was the question again? >> talk about jonna chambers and his input. >> we had a consultant by the name of jerome calloway in hollywood. we worked with them a lot. he helped us figure out how to get people from point a to point b., and the invisible. we put those lessons to good use, and in this case i wanted
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to make sure that we had the committee under control. you have all had your boss ask you did something, and you come back and it will cost this much or this many people get killed or whatever. what you're trying to get is an established contract with masters. that's what we have to do with any exfiltration of that kind. anyway, what we came up with was a bad idea but it really had some pizzazz. so we sort of fell in love with it. the committee effect, what happens we have high level people, and you're putting them in harm's way in the corridors of headquarters. anyway, we had to spend a lot of time taking the what if questions, hand wringing and that sort of thing. but once we got to it, we were
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able to get buy-in if we could convince people that it might work, and we would take it from there. mind you, there's a lot of operations that should go that can be canceled for that reason. and vice versa. so it's a fun process. >> tony wrote a book called "the master of disguise," and he was. but he was a master of a couple of other things. and from my point is a master of getting something done. there is a point when i needed very badly to go to india and lived for two years and were, and there was no way i could get that done it so i went to see tony, took in about two months to get me an assignment in india which was fabulous. two years, amazing work. tony, his guilt in negotiating and in juggling all of these committees, called the committee
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effect, is really not committees of government. he's dealing with the canadian government. we are asking them for carte blanche for the passport. can you imagine the canadian government coming to the united states congress and asking us for blank passports? domeback. he's dealing with every level from the white house, jimmy carter, who actually approved, tony had one foot out the door in germany and a cable came into his head stop, president is reviewing. 20 minutes later, godspeed, good luck, from the president of the united states. this is unprecedented. because as he said, if this didn't a wealthy american flag was going to be draped all over it. so he's working with the canadians, working wit with a we us, working with the cia bureaucracy, and is working with the state department. and it's difficult to get everybody on the same page with
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the idea that they are calling the best bad idea they could come up with. he did all that. but beyond that he went and walked them through the airport on his own, which wasn't necessarily in the plan, and our headquarters often tells us don't do that. don't go in the airport with them. if it goes wrong, they will look to you. without even thinking about it they will turn and look to you if they're in trouble and they will compromise you. don't go to the airport. he went to the airport with them. so let me say, is there anything, i mean this is 30 years later, if you could change something about what you did, about how you did it, would there be anything that you would change? >> never. don't mess with success. [laughter]
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you have no idea if this is going to work. he only go by your guide, and your gut says it looks pretty good to me, go with it. if you go against your got your in deep skin she. so when bobby, the deputy director of cia asked me out was, when it was over, i said nothing succeeds like success. he said i know the feeling. which i guess he did. >> we just got back from new york yesterday, and it was like a week ago that we were in toronto where this film really had its premiere and got wonderful, standing ovation, people whistling, laughing during the movie. alan arkin and jonna goodman, kind of steal this movie. if one or the other doesn't get the best supporting actor, just stupid. particularly on our québec he
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always plays his cranky old men in movies. so we set across an impact in one night at one of the after parties. guess what? he is a cranky old man. [laughter] he and john goodman were just fabulous. there was a photo shoot. mind you, we are two retired spies. this is nuts. there was a photo shoot for entertainment weekly, four pages on this movie, and then talking to the reporters writing the story. and the reporter was saying what's it like to play tony mendez? here's what ben affleck said. well, he's kind of low-key, taciturn, ben affleck said. he said, you know when i first met tony mendez i went up and i said tony, tony, man, how does it feel you are going to be, your story is going to be around the world in every language and they'll all know you and know
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the factors this -- tony, what do you think? how does it feel? and he says to the entertainment weekly reporter, tony said, it feels good. [laughter] ben was being zynga a little for underplaying the part, so he said commute, exhibit a., what am i supposed to do? [laughter] i'm playing tony mendez. >> it was good. [laughter] >> again, we were in new york tonight to go. we were on a panel with one of the people that he rescued, bob anders, a senior fellow in the group, gray hair, he looked like a diplomat. i mean, he was a wonderful man, and we've never heard him talk as it happens that somebody said, bob, tell us a little bit about going to the airport while you're the director, what did
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you do? what did tony do? what did they tell you to do? do you remember what he said? >> no. [laughter] >> of anders said it was fun. and mind you, his life, truly, he said it was kind of fun. this hollywood thing was kind of fun. and tony knew they would choose the hollywood cover. they didn't want to be nutritionists. they didn't want to be oil technicians. and he didn't want to be schoolteachers in a country where the school, the american schools have been shut down for six months. but hollywood, who doesn't want to pretend, and who's not able to pretend to be hollywood? bob anders said we have been confined for three months. and my hair was really long. this was 1979 to so they have to blow dry and they bloat his hair
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back and he said, he said i looked great. there was a shirt that was two sizes too small and i unbuttoned to the this is bob, not me biggies like 80 something a. he said i have all this here at my chest that really looked good. i pulled my jogging, a lot of cologne. a trench coat over my shoulders the esa tony sent my walk was little effeminate. bob anders wanted a house guest who said it was fun. it was fun and skipping from tehran. and that part i think the genius of this story, tony picked it because he knew they could all get into it on some level. they could pretend to be the eccentric hollywood type. and he thought he could save their lives, and they could save their lives. >> it's an amazing story. you're probably not going to
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read another story like this about the u.s. government work. the cia likes this story. they preferred to the matt damon crazy a thousand stories that are all the rage. the cia may show this movie in their theaters, inside. but tony has always said that the job is tell the truth about the cia. to amend history. >> to amend history but not necessarily all the truth. in other words, it has to always be true, but it doesn't have to be all of it. >> exactly right. so you have to know that in this story there's still gaps the things that can't be said. but in the book, "argo," everything in that book is the truth. and we can't wait for our cia colleagues to read it, call us and say, is that me on page --
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[laughter] spent i think that is me. is that me? are you going to tell them? no. time. >> would probably our. >> tony mendez and jonna, thank your son, and thank you so much for your service and your actions depicted in this movie. we are all very proud. >> is there a nonfiction author book you like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at booktv@c-span.org. or tweet us at twitter.com/the tv. >> next on booktv, danny danon argues israel never reach its security and foreign policy goals while under the wing of the united states which he says doesn't always have israel's best interests at heart. this is just under an hour.
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>> shalom, good evening everybody. it's my pleasure to be here with everybody. it's my pleasure to be here with you. especially when you have such great with in washington. almost like a jew and this time of you. i'm happy to see so many people come and join interest in the book and liked in the next 20 minutes to share with you not what you're going to read in the book but what is behind the idea. the first i think we can all agree what's happening in israel is important to the people who live in the united states of america. wide? because we share the same values, the same principles, the same heritage, and the same enemies. and because we're in the middle east today, being attacked, we have to ask yourself why are those people against the jewish nation in the middle east. they are against israel not because of the land, so-called
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occupied. we are being attacked because of the values that we, in israel. and the values of democracy where followed very carefully the election here in the united states, getting to be interesting. last week it became more interesting, what we do follow you. we do love the american people and the american values. sometimes too much. for example, in the day of independence in israel, a big celebration in may. you'll find people putting up the is reflected in the american flag i don't like. i put on my car only the israeli flag. but by people do? because they do it, the value of the democracy agenda can people. but my main point in the book, israel is not america. even though we love america, we are not america. we cannot make mistakes because if you make a mistake, you pay a price. which are able to correct it.
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if israel makes a mistake, we cannot correct it. we saw it in the past. my main point in my book that it shall make decisions according to the interest of israel, period, we do not have to think or to try to satisfy anyone, even if it means telling our allies or to the american president or the e.u. or to the u.n., we do not agree with you. and i will give you two examples. we are all, and i'm going to build on issue of -- [inaudible] the for iran let's think about iraq. in the early '80s prime minister menachem begin decided to attack the nuclear reactor in iraq. it wasn't popular here in the us but we did and we were condemned by the u.s., by the state department that we were condemned by the u.n., but years later people appreciated that the great decision that prime
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minister menachem begin took in 1981 was for the benefit of the american peoples. because when you, the american army invade iraq, you are able to go into iraq without the risk of iraqis nuclear. and let's go back to 1973, the yom kippur war. i'm sure some jewish people in the audience, and for us the jewish people yom kippur, holiest day of the year when we go and pray. 1973 during the yom kippur war, that's something they found that even though i thought i know everything before applicable, but doing the research i learned myself a lot. and i found out that 1973 when the egyptian and assyrian armies taught us by surprise and we're almost at the point where we would've lost the war. and when we lose the war, we are going to go to the sea. it's not the war you fight in
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vietnam or afghanistan. when we lose the war it means that we are out of the game. we got to a crucial point in the first day of the war that we were invaded from both fronts. and from here in washington, the state department sent a telegram to the embassy which is not far away from here, and on that telegram there was a message from kissinger, secretary state department, telling us of the issues, wait, hold your horses, do not take action because kissinger is going to move on with diplomatic efforts. and that the time the telegram was sent from the state department to the embassy, during yom kippur, the egyptian and syrian armies were already on their way to destroy the jewish state. and that is an example of a mistake because the leader at the time, prime minister golda my year, she was afraid to take a preemptive attack. she was afraid because she said
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so, i don't know what would be the reaction in washington. back then kissinger was very strong. nixon was going down. he was going out. she was afraid from his reaction. and because of that approach we almost lost the war. that is why today we do with the issue of iran, we have to take the decision which is good for israel, period. maybe it will not be popular in the u.n., india and russia. every thing you said that israel is not popular. the double standard of the u.n. as being sponsored by taxpayers, u.s. money can something that made one day they will be on committee to look at the decision in the u.n. but also it might not be popular here in the u.s. and only to date secretary clinton said a few hours ago that we should not put any red lights to iran. this is a mistake because when you deal with the enemies in the middle east, you don't play
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according to the rules of washington, d.c., jerusalem, or the and. it's a different language, and if you want to convince someone in iran to stop, the nuclear race, you have to take action. in my book i write it very directly that it's not an afterthought. we need to take action and we have seen that sanctions, not crippling sanctions. i think what happened the last month in the decision that our friend in canada took to close the embassy in tehran. it is a great decision. we should have done it years ago because the people in iran, look at what's happening here in two weeks time, ahmadinejad will become a contiguous. he will go to the u.n., deliver a nice speech, but then he will go back to iran and he will continue with the race to build a nuclear bomb. in my book i speak a lot about israel, but the fact --
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[inaudible] because of iran would become nuclear, it is a threat to you. maybe we are on the front line, so they will go after ourselves. but listen to what the people in iran are saying. they're saying it very clearly. we will wipe out israel first. then we want to wipe out the great schism, the united states of america. they are saying will go after the jews, but after that will go after the sunday people, the christians. and in my book i tried to send you a message. you have to wake up. many americans say well, it's not in my backyard, the issue of iran, escher, why should we care? let me tell you something. it is in your backyard because if iran becomes nuclear, it's a threat to the american people.
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look at the linkage today between -- [inaudible]. and hezbollah and al qaeda. what is the connection between hezbollah and iran and venezuela? why did he walk together? by are the flags flying? one thing that is common, the hatred to the shared values, to the american cause, the israeli does, to what we represent. so if you ignore the threat coming from iran, it will come to the shores of the united states, and to all, we're all going to remember the incident in the attack of 9/11. and look, al qaeda decided to attack the towers in new york city. they could have done in the towers of tel aviv city. they have the capability and i can show you that with respect to our intelligence and to our security